How to Improve Your Web Search Skills?
Have you ever asked someone in your life a pressing question about something you needed a quick answer to, only to be told to “just Google it”? Search engines have become an integral part of the way we live and gather information. So often, the answer you are after really is a simple click away. For example, think “what’s the weather in Austin, TX” or “free online calculator”. Other times? Well, the query you are asking is both more complex and nuanced. In this article, we will show some tips to improve your web search skills.
How to Improve Your Web Search Skills?
For those times, a crash course in web search skills can really help you out. Here are some pro tips to get better at using the internet to find the answers you are truly looking for.
Making Search Engines Work for You
Are you trying to find out where that quote you heard today came from? Or, maybe you want to know what garden pests are most likely to pose a threat in your area. Or, where to buy a new graphics card. No matter what you are searching for, you will get the results you are looking for quickly if you are able to be precise as you choose your search term.
Web Search Tips
- Include a year in your search if your query is time-sensitive. The search engine’s algorithm is likely to offer you the most popular results — which are also often outdated. Try “Hindu population data India 2020”, for instance, “hottest summer day 2021”, or “apply for student loans 2021”. An even better strategy would be to make full use of Google’s advanced tools by specifying a time range.
- Include the geographical region you are looking into in your query where relevant. For example, “green spotted toad berlin Germany”, or “lung cancer rates California”.
- If you are trying to locate the source of a quote or attempting to find a person, you can use double quote marks (“like this”). This tells the search engine to only include search results that feature that specific phrase in its entirety.
- Want to exclude something instead? Try adding the minus symbol (-) and the words you don’t want to include at the end. For example, “Austrian chocolate -Mozart balls”.
- If you are only looking for research studies about a topic, you can simply add the words “study” or “research” at the end of your search query. This will often allow you to read newspaper articles about studies. However, if you want to access the studies themselves, you are better off going to Google Scholar.
- Explore Google’s advanced search tools for more accurate results. Access the advanced search tools here. This allows you to limit your results to, for instance, .gov or .edu domains to find information from reputable sources.
- To search an entire website, and only that website, input site:www.example.com (replace with your target website) and enter your chosen keywords after that.
Google offers highly personalized content, including search engine results pages. As a result, you may prefer to log out of your account or open an incognito window to access more generalized results without losing your cookies. You can also try using other search engines, such as DuckDuckGo, which are less personalized.
Beyond Search Engines: Assessing Whether Your Web Search Results Are Accurate
Once you refine your search engine search skills, you will still need to pay close attention to the results you are getting. Ask yourself:
- Is this website an authority on the topic at hand? Am I sure about that? (If not, keep looking, at least to verify the information elsewhere.)
- When was this page last updated? (If you wanted to know how many people died of a heart attack in your state last year, but the page you are looking at hasn’t been updated since 2011, that is not going to be very useful.)
- Can I independently verify that this information is correct by looking at other websites or confirming with an encyclopedia? This holds true in the case of customer reviews as well. Many sellers hire people to post positive reviews.
While you can always continue to refine your web search skills, taking these simple steps will put you ahead of the curve — and allow you to find the things you are looking for more easily.
Additional Reading: Refine Web Searches
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